Speaking Python

David Mertz mertz at gnosis.cx
Mon Oct 13 22:02:37 CEST 2003

In the endless Lisp/macro threads, Alex Martelli mentioned something a
bit interesting about screen-reading applications.  Specifically, he
expressed reservations about whether Python would be a good language for
visually impaired or blind programmers.

The concern, I think, is that pronouncing
'space-space-space-space-space-space-space-space' isn't all that easy to
follow if spoken with every line.  Even a reduced form like
"eight-spaces' isn't perfect either.  Actually, a symmetric concern is
with voice recognition applications--perhaps for people with motor

My feeling is that a good vocal Python programming editor would need to
know a bit about the structure of the language.  Maybe to a greater
degree than would one with explicit delimiters (although I have trouble
imagining blind programmers being all that happy with hearing
either).  Perhaps this same hypothetical editor would speak code and
recognize spoken code using the same format.

So quick test, how do you say:

    def range_sum(N):
        if N < 0:
            return None
        elif N == 1:
            return 1
            tot = 0
            for n in range(1,N+1):
                tot += n
            return tot

It's a stupid function, of course; I just wanted something with a couple
of levels of indents for an example.  There's no need to tell me it's
pronouned 'sum-of-range-of-N-plus-one'.

Yours, David...

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